Fare thee well, ONATRACOM

Moses Opobo

RITCO is the latest addition to the country’s inland bus transportation scene. It’s an acronym –the condensed form of the name, Rwanda Interlink Transport Company Limited.

Well, RITCO launched its services Tuesday, by unleashing its fleet to ply some of the remotest routes in the country.


The company comes as a welcome replacement to the previously loss-making ONATRACOM, hence the choice of those big, 60-seater buses. As things go, RITCO is promising a better deal for travelers than its predecessor, although the fact is that ONATRACOM was a home-grown and hence better-sounding name.


I love bus travel in Rwanda chiefly because it’s decent enough and therefore nothing to be ashamed about. In some other East African capitals, you don’t necessarily go out there to ‘enjoy’ a bus ride. On the contrary, and unfortunately so, one just has to brave such a ride.

In Rwanda, the Ministry of Health warning; “do not share accommodation with animals” has been taken seriously enough to by extension shield travelers on public commuters from “sharing bus transport with pesky chickens”.

The other thing with the buses here is that they are colorfully named after familiar things. Matunda is one such name.


This simply means matunda.


I just love the sound of this particular bus company’s name, especially when spoken by a sexy, French-speaking female.


When said by a French-speaking female, the sound of ‘Belvedere’ is just as melodic as ‘Fidelity’.


Local bus companies are so aptly named –so much so that you won’t find a Virunga bus speeding towards Bugesera, Kayonza or Gatsibo districts in the Eastern Province; neither will you find them headed to Gisagara or Kamonyi districts in the Southern Province.

Instead, every time that I have boarded or spotted a Virunga bus, it was headed up north –Musanze and beyond.

Whenever I’ve been to Musanze to simply laugh around (as is often the case), I have always insisted on a Virunga Express.

However on those rare occasions when it’s serious business prompting my travel, the natural choice has always been Virunga Business Class.


This is one of those bus names that must have been purposely coined to confuse people like me. One minute, I’m calling it Kigali Bus Services, (and rightly so), and the next, it is Kigali Business Services. But we’ll stick with the former.

Other times, when someone mentions KBS to me, my mind slips off to the former Kigali Business Center in Kimihurura and the nightclub whose name was Planet Club, but that everybody insisted on calling KBC.

So this thing is just as confusing to me as Nyarutarama and Nyirangarama. For the uninitiated, Nyirangarama is business man Sina Gerrard’s vast kingdom on the way to Musanze from Kigali.